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19-year-old Ajax captain beats Europe's top young talents to Golden Boy award

Matthijs de Ligt saw off competition from the likes of Roma winger Justin Kluivert, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold and Milan forward Patrick Cutrone.

De Ligt has followed in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe and Leo Messi.
De Ligt has followed in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe and Leo Messi.
Image: Pro Shots Photo Agency/SIPA USA/PA Images

COVETED AJAX CAPTAIN and sensation Matthijs de Ligt has been crowned the 2018 Golden Boy as the most promising U21 player in Europe.

Linked with La Liga champions Barcelona and Premier League title-holders Manchester City among others, the 19-year-old centre-back claimed the Tuttosport award after receiving the most votes from an international panel.

De Ligt beat Roma winger Justin Kluivert, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, AC Milan forward Patrick Cutrone and Real Madrid teenager Vinicius Junior to the honour, won by Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe last year.

Kluivert was previously seen as the leader for the award midway through the voting process, but the Ajax star was recognised by Tuttosport on Monday as the 2018 winner.

Netherlands international De Ligt – under contract until 2021 – has been a revelation since making his debut for boyhood club Ajax in 2016, establishing himself in the heart of the Eredivisie club’s defence.

A first international call-up following last year and De Ligt continues to attract interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Barca reportedly at the front of the queue.

De Ligt previously stated that he considered himself a “normal boy” more than a Golden Boy, but now the Dutch defender joins illustrious company as winner of the prestegious award. 

Previous winners of the award include Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Isco and Lionel Messi.

De Ligt is the first ever defender to win the award with eight midfielders and seven forwards having previously won the title.

He’s the second Dutchman recognised, following 2003 winner Rafael van der Vaart, who also won the award during his time at Ajax. 

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